FITNESS FOCUS: THE FOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES
It’s one thing to take a Pilates class and work on your core strength. It’s something else, altogether, to use this strong core to move you through life with support, strength, efficiency and effectiveness. The key to actively engaging your core is awareness and visualization. Becoming aware of your current alignment and visualizing your body in its proper alignment will help you to engage and maintain that core throughout each movement in your daily activities. Brooke Siler, author of The Pilates Body and The Pilates Body Challenge has 4 “non-negotiables” for using awareness and visualization to keep the core engaged throughout your daily life.
1. Engage the CORE: Think about pulling the belly button in and up. Imagine that a string is running from your navel through your back toward your spine, gently pull in. Now think about sitting on a cold metal bench…brrrr!…Now lift up! Keeping the core engaged will protect and support your spine (lower back included) throughout the day.
2. Lift the CHEST. As you are squeezing that pencil between your shoulder blades to keep your shoulders back and down, think about a rope extending from your chest…someone is pulling it toward the sky…lift! This not only helps you get your spine into its proper alignment, but it also helps you cardiovascularly. Lungs that are hindered by being squeezed into a hunched rib cage can’t fill to capacity. Brooke Siler suggests thinking about creating the square footage of a mansion to house your lungs.
3. Get the SPINE in LINE. Siler refers to this as “taking the kink out of a garden hose.” Lengthening through the crown of the head (yes, the string is now coming out of the top of you head…pulling up! Chin slightly nodded toward the chest-imagine a tangerine between you chin and chest.) The chest is lifted (see #2) and we move to the hips. The hips are a bucket of water…hold the bucket level, not spilling the water out!
4. BALANCE the BODY: Throughout the course of the day, we tend to shift our weight from one side of the body to the other. Perhaps we lean back into a comfy sofa or slouch in our computer chair. This misaligns our spine and affects our ability to work effectively and efficiently. It does not allow the CORE to support and protect us properly. Following the first 3 steps then being aware of the CORE, the CHEST, and the HIPS and their proper placement wherever we in our daily activities “will ensure your body is working safely and at its maximum potential in everything you do” according to Siler.
FAITH FOCUS: Are there “Non-negotiables” for keeping my CORE in Christ engaged as I
move through my life?
It happens all the time. We leave church on Sunday feeling strong, alive, full of the Holy Spirit! We are ready to GO into all the world and share this great feeling, God’s love with everyone…..and then, well, the garage door doesn’t open when we get home, we forgot to turn on the crock pot and lunch isn’t ready, the dog tore up a couch cushion….whatever, life happens, and we lose that feeling. By the time Monday rolls around, we are no longer “active” or “engaged”. What are we to do? Here are 4 NON-NEGOTIABLES for keeping an active and engaged CORE in Christ:
1. Engage The CORE with QUIET TIME: Prayer and Study of God’s Word are probably the two best habits for keeping the CORE engaged. We need to daily think about getting God’s Word “in” and then lifting prayers “up to Him. QUIET TIME: In and Up with God’s Word!
2. Lift The CHEST: Whenever I think about lifting my chest and pulling my shoulders back and down, I think about God’s armor. I think about that breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith I am to hold. This makes me feel stronger! With our CORE engaged through QUIET TIME, we are ready to GO into the WORLD showing others God’s love through our actions. By lifting up our shield of faith, our breastplate of righteousness, we are able to act according to God’s will.
3. SPINE in LINE: As we think about holding our hips level, we can visualize the belt of truth being placed there by our Heavenly Father. It is placed there for protection. The truth that holds us in position when the waves of the world rock us, trying to spill our “bucket”. Knowing the TRUTH of our Faith holds us in alignment with God’s will…we are able to stand firm against the lies of this world.
4. BALANCE the BODY: Making sure we seek balance in our spiritual life by study, prayer, our actions, and helping others will keep our CORE firm. Sometimes we get caught up in one area or the other. This is true for me…I often find myself in 3 Bible Studies at once, or none at all…Helping others through volunteer work for months and then getting burned out and not able to help….I pray without ceasing for days, and then, the next thing I know, I can’t remember my last prayer…The world we live in is unbalanced. It is up to us to “stand our ground”. Having a strong CORE in our Faith, and actively engaging it DAILY enables us to do this with support and protection from the Holy Spirit, the one sent to keep us aligned and ready for any movement that God asks of us.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 5:13-15)